I'm Emily Weiss, CEO and Founder of Glossier. I'm here to talk about how I've built and scaled Glossier.Featured

I’m the CEO and founder of Glossier, the direct-to-consumer, community driven beauty company that proves everyone is an expert. We're laser focused on changing two industries, beauty and e-commerce, through the people powered ecosystem that we're building. Over the next 12-18 months, we will be rolling out digital products that will invert Amazon's model of e-commerce, we'll be introducing new brands, and we'll continue to work towards our mission of giving people a voice through beauty--one of the greatest conduits for connections out there, and a $450B market growing to $750B within six years. Ask me anything about building and scaling Glossier, how I think about e-commerce and the future of brands, or anything else.
Hi Everyone – As a reminder – this is part of our ongoing series of conversations with experts in the community.Emily – Thank you for joining us!
Goooo Cadran!!
What time?
Hi! Sorry for not sharing a time! I've learned over the course of doing these AMAs with busy people that it works better to keep them asynchronous.
Glossier's take on marketing has been labeled as disruptive and focused on reactions from real fans, not paid influencers, who have helped build your customer base. In the beginning as a new product, what steps did you take to identify your "fans"... - in order to build a targeted digital/social strategy? Thanks!
Thank you for saying that! Because we launched on Instagram back in 2014, and because we had been running Into The Gloss for four years prior, we already had a pretty big community. It was easy to see who was engaging with us because a lot of the engagement was happening digitally across these platforms--women DMing us, liking our posts, taking pictures of Glossier products and tagging us in them, etc.
Makes total sense. Thanks very much for your reply!
Fellow Condé alum and Glossier obsessive here! I'm in the early stages of a new beauty retail startup focusing only on selling minis. I'm curious to hear your POV on Glossier + retailer partnerships. Will we ever see Glossier in Sephora or elsewhere? You partnered with Colette briefly, but in what instance would you consider selling Glossier in retail again? What are major retail players getting wrong in the current beauty landscape? Thank you for your time!
Great question! One of the things we strongly believe, as a customer-centric company, is that we can't form the meaningful relationships that we value with our customers if we sell through other distribution channels. Being able to communicate and engage with our customers across various channels, and ensuring that we are delivering the true Glossier customer experience, is challenging if we go through other channels. I love discovering beauty products at all sorts of retail environments--for us, it's not about what retailers are doing wrong, but more so ensuring we are able to deliver the Glossier customer experience that we're proud of.
When you first built Glossier, did you already have a good relationship with several makeup manufactures/ production companies? How did you go about finding companies to work with that fit into your company's philosophy?
I didn't! That was one of the hardest parts of building Glossier. One of the first hires I made was a Head of Product Development who had spent years in the beauty industry (Mac, etc.). Luckily, she had great relationships with manufacturers. This was a lesson I learned early on--hire for your weaknesses! Surround yourself with people smarter than you are!
I saw you speak at the Women in Product conference in September with your assistant. You came across as a very transparent and honest. How do you incorporate that kind of transparency & honesty into your approach to leadership at Glossier? PS - Glossier has made me appreciate makeup in a way I have never have. The products are so effortless. Can't wait to see what's next.
Thank you for saying such nice things about Glossier! I'm really glad you enjoy the products. I think most people who work at Glossier will say that I'm very candid--it's not something that I consciously try to do, I've always been naturally very transparent with people. In fact, it's often a joke with our comms team because they know how honest I can be at public speaking events. Honesty is key--I get up in front of our entire company at All Hands every two weeks and give a state of the union address, I'm instituting bi-weekly AMAs; ensuring that everyone in the company has the information that they need to do their jobs is critical, and honesty and transparency is a large part of that.
I was so amazed how people are lining up for the pop-up shop in SF - around the building and beyond - buying Glossier like crazy. We have so many brands in the world, how have you made yours so desirable?How have you created a temptation around the product?What were the key success factors for the Glossier community to grow from 0 to millions of raving fans?What is the "must have" about starting a community-focused brand?
I genuinely think that being customer-devoted is the answer to all of this. So many companies ask me, "how do you make people feel heard?" and my answer is always "listen to them!" We didn't start Glossier with the objective of building community; we started the company because we wanted to build the first bottoms-up beauty company. We wanted to create a company that made women feel proud, excited, and confident in talking about the products they use and love. The "must have" is simply being customer-centric in every part of the organization--not just marketing, or customer service.
How did you decide to go with the direct to consumer route in the cosmetics industry? I mean, of course it generates tremendous value in consumer experience and people love the direct relationship with the brand, but I have observed that, especially in the case of cosmetics, ease of access (DTC vs retail), tangible experience (Glossier’s Experience showroom vs window shopping purchases) and cost (shipping in DTC for cosmetics) are so important factors. In short, I just feel that people love the feeling of DTC, but often many would go with the cheaper store alternatives . If you were 18 today, starting Glossier, would you have made a different decision, something new perhaps?
This is a great question, and actually touches on a lot of what I've been thinking about lately. You're right--the current e-commerce experience isn't perfect, and people have to go out of their way to go to We're currently working on building a new digital experience that IS exciting to go to--something that offers a breadth of connection, not just product. I wouldn't do it differently because I still really believe in the value of being direct to consumer.
My question is around your initial stages of getting investment. I once read how many times you heard 'No' before you got a yes, and I wondered what kept you going in those early days. Did you always have the conviction in your idea or did you have to build the resilience as you went?
Yes, I've always had a lot of conviction! I read the book "Grit" by Angela Duckworth and it resonated with me. I don't have a traditional background, I didn't go to business school, but I do have a lot of conviction and I work really hard. I think that, combined with my belief that women deserved to have this company exist, is what made me keep going, even after hearing so many no's initially.
I'm building a new VC fund at the moment focussed on overlooked founders and markets and I'm thinking about the kind of fund that would attract brilliant entrepreneurs like you. What advice do you have in terms of building a brand for a new VC fund and what would most stand out to you if a new fund came along and did VC differently?
Wow, such a great idea! I love this. First, I think focusing on overlooked founders is already doing something different. As we've heard before, only 2% of VC dollars went to women last year, and only 0.2% went to women of color. Focusing on funding people who have been historically misrepresented would be a great place to start.
Thank you so much for the kind words - I will keep you updated on the close and when we have a website. Any innovative ideas about better brand building in venture much appreciated!
I founded a direct to consumer wedding dress brand and we are currently growing by word of mouth. We are at the point where we need to focus on finding our brand's voice. What specific tactical steps (vision boarding, testing different language) did you use when building Into the Gloss or Glossier's brand image and tone? As a brand with limited funding we have also been trying to decide how to allocate our marketing spend between working with a PR firm and paid advertising. If you could only choose one, what would you do in our position in today's environment?
What do you mean by "inverting Amazon's model of e-commerce"? Are we moving more towards a world where we sell more curated and direct to consumer?
My questions are about Into The Gloss and when it was just a personal blog. 1. How did you grow the audience initially? What were your best strategies? Did you do any paid advertisement?2. When it came to developing content, were you creating content everyday? Or was it more about quality and not quantity. 3. How were you able to secure celebrity interviews. 4. What social channels helped with the growth of your community?
How did you develop the work ethic to work on Into the Gloss while balancing a full-time job and other commitments?
At what stage did you fundraise for Glossier?
1. The beauty industry was already mega saturated when you started. What was the #1 thing you were doing differently and how did you ensure defensibility from the many large competitors who might attempt to do the same?2. We're all obsessed with your brand. Can you share more about the process you followed for developing your brand and voice?
1. What is your favorite life hack?2. What is the challenge you experience that folks don't ask about / talk about enough?
Literally been reading ITG since 2010. Would love to know where you see the future of social listening going? Are aggregate # of likes and # of comments truly indicative of customer purchase intent? How does this tie into your vision for creating a new model of e-commerce?
As a community-driven brand, how do you maintain a cohesive vision across your products? What do you think really resonated with customers, and what was your process in finding the vision that has clicked with so many people? What factors influenced your decision to create your own brand - was it always in the works when the blog was started?
I would love to know how do you constantly educate yourself / develop new skills so that you can grow at the same pace with Glossier? You started with a tiny company (in the beginning) and today it's a huge one...I assume you constantly need to 're-invent' yourself to remain CEO of such a fast growing company. How do you do this? Did you ever feel overwhelmed / fear or lacking skills? What is your way to grow yourself and be able manage every new stage of Glossier?
—When you were first starting Into the Gloss, how did you land your first paying advertisers/partnerships? What advice do you have for inspiring others to believe in your vision when you are just starting out? —What is great content to you?—Speaking of #content, there are a million ways to create it these days. (Blog! Insta! Insta Stories! Snap! Facebook!) How has your team's approach to creating great content changed as your company evolves? What are your best advice for giving your community the content they want to consume? Thank you! So excited to watch Glossier take over the world. 👽
I am a co-founder of an exciting skincare company. We have been bootstrapping and getting small funding from friends/family to get our initial formula and website created. Our goal is to go for funding now. Do you have any advice for pre-revenue funding? Forecasting is something we would like more insight on. How did Glossier push through in the beginning? Other side questions: – What do you think of men's skincare?– Thinking of the Curology approach... do you see the market following the trend of more personalized skincare?
Hard and Soft Skills: What are the skills that you have found most useful in your Glossier journey and which ones have you had to develop along the way? (thinking technical, marketing, relationship building, product focussed, etc...) Any advice you would give to your early founding self would be interesting to hear as well!
Big fan of both you and Glossier (We shared space on the 5th floor on Lafayette in 2015). I think the way Glossier has been able to gain a genuine global following introducing new beauty standards is truly fascinating. When social media has become more and more cluttered, do you think this is still possible for a new brand?
How did you build and retain a team that supported the vision you had for the company, and continues to grow and support each other as colleagues? What is the best piece of advice you would give someone trying to build a similar team?
How have you seen 'beauty' (and everything that involves) change over the course of your career? In what direction would you personally like to see it continue to evolve? 50 years from now, what is the mark you hope you've left on beauty, women, and/or society, etc.? (deep questions, I know - but I know they're directed toward a deep thinker who's doing more than just reviewing and creating makeup for millennials. <3 I'm curious how you think about your path and your purpose, and how you see Glossier as a vehicle to advance both.)
Thank you so much for doing this. I am a scientist/entrepreneur who is launching a company that provides skin care product recommendations based on a customer's DNA (check it out: My question to you is does Glossier plan to use any personalized product recommendations, and if so, have you thought about how you might do this? What are your thoughts on how DNA sequencing might be able to transform the customer experience? I absolutely love Glossier, and even made a pilgrimage to your showroom in NYC last year which was so exciting, so thank you so much for doing this!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and for being such a source of inspiration for me and my co-founder. We so admire the empire you’ve built, and especially the way in which you saw a gap between industry offerings and what people wanted their cosmetics to do and to stand for. We’re looking at the skincare industry through a similar lens, in that there are hundreds of thousands of products available, but that most people are frustrated with their skincare experiences. This is unsurprising, as conglomerates really only seem interested in leveraging marketing to encourage people to buy buy buy, without really giving much care into offering the right skincare solution for individual skin needs. Our solution is to make skincare discovery more time- and capital-efficient by 1) generating data-driven product recommendations (we’ve developed a proprietary algorithm), and 2) selling deluxe samples to allow people to try products for a long enough trial period before committing to a full-sized product. My first question is, as someone who understands the mindset of these beauty manufacturers, what are some of the biggest barriers for them to enter a partnership in which a company like ours distributes deluxe-sized samples of their products? I’ve heard feedback that sometimes stores like Sephora want exclusive rights to giving their VIB members rewards that aren’t available anywhere else and deluxe samples are great for this kind of thing. How would you recommend getting around situations like this? And lastly, since all the brands seem to be owned by the same people, how would you go about finding the right contact for each brand? Apologies for the long post!Christine
I'm building a direct-to-consumer content business and I'm wondering how you achieved your growth - your "catch-fire" moment - the moment that you went from getting a couple new users a day, to hundreds or thousands a day?
I'm a big fan of Glossier and love what you're doing for beauty and e-commerce :)I'm really interested in learning more about what the next year or two looks like for Glossier (any exciting things that haven't been revealed yet?)Also, what's your opinion on growth equity and would you be interested in it?
Was in the LA Glossier store this past weekend and was struck by the genuine and raw excitement of visitors! I've been thinking about what it takes to build that since I left. How do you think about building a relationship with your users vs e-commerce as usual?Can you share more on what a people powered ecosystem means?For very early stage founders looking to build community, what advice can you share....... things we should be thinking about now, and/or lessons learned?What does Glossier understand about the future of brands that others haven't figured out yet?Congrats on what you and team Glossier have built!
I was reading this recent medium post : learned few things from post for making everything around community.Question : On that line , What 2 initiative I should take for my online community ? if my startup is only bits product .
Once you had the idea of Glossier in mind , how did you know what to do next ? Whom to approach ? How to start your journey??
Unfortunately this AMA has ended. We've got a AMAs coming up with more founders, so I'd recommend asking them this question since it definitely applies for every founder. Sorry about that!
@cadran I am really enjoying these AMAs. Thank you for making them happen.
Are there any personal sacrifices you've had to make in order to build and scale Glossier Inc?
I'm curious as to what's been your branding and marketing strategy when targeting the 55+ demographic? In other words, what's your advice on how to appeal to the older modern adult customer? I'm the Co-Founder of televeda. And we're building an active lifestyle brand for this demographic. I'd be super grateful for any advice you may have! Thank you very much.
What was the plan you laid out in order to get your initial funding that proved to VCs that glossier would be successful in such a saturated market? And how did you put that plan into action from a day to day basis?
I wanted to ask you about the growth of your company - from humble beginnings you have achieved great heights. You still maintain the same loved personality for Glossier. What advice would you give to brands who are skeptical of losing their personality from the brand which was what was so loved from the beginning once the company grows bigger?
When you were starting Glossier, how did you carve out a niche? When you thought about your customer, who was she/were they and how was she/were they (at least slightly) different from the customer of other beauty brands? What process did you use to find out who this customer was and what they were looking for?
I’m very curious to know what idea is generally considered a fact in ecommerce that you believe to be false?
- Women are an underserved market in tech. How do you think we can improve this?- I’m curious to know what digital products are in your roadmap and what problems will they address?- What was the hardest thing about breaking into the beauty industry or building the community that Glossier has today?- What are the big lessons you learned while running Glossier? If you could go back in time, what would you have done differently?
Hi Emily - thanks for holding this time for us to chat.Much of your success was attributed to consistent effort and time. As content continues to evolve, so do the voices saying "it's too late - if your blog hasn't taken off, forget it". I remember thinking this in 2005, 2010, 2015 and now in 2020. However, we see content strategy still always at the forefront of incredible brands - like Glossier. When building "Into the Gloss" for it to scale or give foot for "Glossier" to launch, how did you remain motivated? Did you, for instance, give yourself a timeline for if it the content site didn't take off?
If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
What will be the future of the beauty e-commerce for you? The beauty industry is a really fragmented market in SEA with lots hand carrying and fake products, non-ethical brands, can you give me some pieces of advice on how to build a trusted community with authentic reviews in this challenging environment?
Who or what did you turn to when you ran into walls when you were just starting Glossier? Who gave you the best advice and what were some of the best that you use to this day? Also, what are some of your favorite startups? I can't wait to see more Glossier everywhere. Congrats on the Paris launch!! <3
You are a truly inspiring strong woman!Who is your most inspirational personality? And who was your role model back then when you started your business (if you had one)?
Emily, how did you get your first 100 customers and how did you scale from 100 to 100,000?
Unfortunately this AMA has already ended. Sorry about that!
Thanks for chatting with us Emily!Thanks everyone for sharing your questions. Unfortunately Emily wasn't able to get to all of your them, but she shared some awesome insights that are hopefully still helpful!